Installing SQL Server on Windows 8

One of the things I often try to do is make sure I understand the experience of customers when installing new versions of SQL Server or existing versions of SQL Server on new Windows Operating Systems.

So I took a recent tour of the experience installing SQL Server on Windows 8. I thought you might benefit by reading through my thoughts about this experience before you do this yourself.

Let’s start with SQL Server 2005. First, it is not supported on Windows 8 but I wanted to see if we did a good job telling you this. When you run setup.exe for SQL Server 2005, you are presented with this dialog box


I selected the “Get help online’ option and was presented with this dialog box


OK, this is not bad. We say here that this version of SQL Server 2005 is not compatible with Windows. Unfortunately, we still allow you to run the setup program from the previous dialog box but at least there is some warning that this is not compatible.

Now for SQL Server 2008 R2 (this is the same experience as SQL 2008). First, let me stop and tell you the support compatibility story:

  • SQL Server 2005 and any previous version is NOT supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012
  • SQL Server 2008 is supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 but requires a minimum of Service Pack 3
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 is supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 but requires a minimum of Service Pack 1
  • SQL Server 2012 RTM is supported on Windows 8/Windows Server 2012

We have an article that talks about this and I’ll show you that article shortly.

On to the SQL Server 2008 R2 experience. Because I know SP1 is required, I expect to get a similar dialog box as SQL Server 2005  but perhaps with more information that I can proceed and then install SP1 afterwards.


Yes looks similar to SQL Server 2005. When I select “Get help online” I get this dialog box again similar to SQL Server 2005


This time I select the link that says “Tap or clock to go online….”. This will bring up the following KB article



This article lists the specific requirements for SQL Server versions that I’ve listed above in this post. And the article includes some of the screenshots I’ll show you in the rest of this blog post. Don’t mind the comment in the article about “Release Candidate..”. Since Windows 8 has released we will change that.

Back to the dialog box.. If you go to the lower right corner you will see a link “View all problems this applies to”. Select this and you will get a new window that looks like this (you might have multiple rows if you have runs setup more than once)


If you double-click on this entry you now presented with this window which provides more clear instructions that it is ok to proceed with the installation provided you install the necessary service packs afterwards depending on what release of SQL Server you are installing


One thing that may confuse you is that if you select “View Solution” on this page, you will be brought back to one of the original screens I’ve already shown you in this post. The reason for this is that these “Problems” are stored in your Action Center History so if you were to look at any of these Problems in the Action Center History you would see the right solution. Through the setup process you are in a way shown the solution before the problem.

If you select OK out of this screen and two previous ones you are left with this dialog box


Since there is no option for “Run the program I’ve already looked at the help”<g> the only option to pick is “Run the program without getting help”. You can now proceed with the installation of SQL Server. One other thing though that may cause some confusion. If you have never installed SQL Server on this machine, you may get the above dialog box several times before the Installation Center appears. This is because we may need to run our setup.exe several times and this is the program that is associated with the compatibility dialog box

One other related experience to installing SQL Server on Windows 8 is an in-place upgrade of Windows 8 from Windows 7 when SQL Server is already installed. I didn't actually go through the entire in-place upgrade experience myself completely. But I did want to see what Windows 8 upgrade would say if I had SQL Server already installed. My thanks to my colleague Robert Dorr for this one. He did an in-place upgrade of his laptop at work and was confused by the Compatibility Report message about SQL Server. He asked me to look into it and the result of that investigation follows.

I setup a VM running Windows 7 with SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008 RTM, and SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 installed all side by side. I then chose to upgrade the VM with Windows 8.

At the very beginning of the install process, Windows 8 does a compatibility check for apps on your machine. For mine, it showed the following report



I understand the reason SQL Server 2005 is listed based on its unsupported status I’ve already talked about. Notice the recommendations for any of these application is to uninstall them before you continue. For SQL Server 2005, this may be a wise choice. As I’ve stated we don’t support SQL Server 2005 on Windows 8 and quite frankly we didn’t test what the affects might be to the upgrade. I can’t say your upgrade will have problems but all bets are off here. My recommendation is to uninstall it or upgrade it to a supported SQL Server release before continuing with the Windows upgrade.

The SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 listing is puzzling. I told you I have SQL 2008 R2 SP1 which is supported so why is it listed? This is because we bundled the message for compatibility together for both releases which is unfortunate. This means you will not be able to tell whether you have SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008 R2 or if you have both, which one is causing the compatibility problem. But it does tell you one of these releases is not at a compatible version. The safest approach here is to stop the upgrade, and install the required supported service pack. However, I don’t know of any issue you would encounter by proceeding with the upgrade and then installing the required SQL service pack afterwards.

I hope these screenshots and side notes about the install experience on Windows 8 will help avoid any confusion for you and answer any questions you may have before you contact our Microsoft support teams.

There are some other interesting scenarios when installing with Windows 8/Windows Server 2012 which I’ll cover in my next blog post.


Bob Ward

Comments (35)

  1. Henry Boehlert says:

    Funny that Windows 8 probably let's me run Lotus-1-2-3 but not SQL Server 2005.

    Say, I have a product that requires 2005, maybe, for Reporting. Would you say I should abandon the product or Windows 8?

  2. Richard says:

    I've never understood why each new version of Windows drops support for a version of SQL. On a 32-bit version of Windows 7, I can run 16-bit games which were written for Windows 3.1 or DOS 6.0, but I can't run any version of SQL released more than five years before the OS.

    Is there a genuine technical reason why SQL won't work, or is this forced obsolescence?

  3. Paul says:

    The above article related to x86 and x64, but what about WinRT?  Will SQL run on ARM processors for WinRT?

  4. Joe Reynolds says:

    I just did an upgrade install of Windows 8 pro on a Windows 7 machine. I was not warned on install about sql 2005 compatibility.

    After the update to Windows 8 I can still run my Visual Studio Express projects that use sql 2005.

    Color me confused.

  5. Jignesh says:

    It's funny, I am installing Windows 8 on all machine in my company and when I am installing SQL Express 2008 R2, it was give me compatiblity error.

    I was jsut click on the "Don't show me this messages again" checkbox and click on run anyway button.

    The SQL is installed properly and it is running properly without any error.

  6. says:

    Follow the steps to install SQL Server 2008 R2 on Windows 8

    1. Control Panel

    2. Turn On or Off Feature

    3. Select Dotnet – Need to have Dotnet 3.5 SP1

    4. Restart your computer

    5. Install SQL Server 2008/R2

    6. Smile 🙂

    Zakir Hossain, Data Group

    Question?? info@ DataGroupUSA com

  7. Bernardo says:

    Gracias esto si me funciono, mi problema es que no puedo instalar sql server Management 2008 como administrador de base de datos de Microsoft sql server xpress

  8. Irshad says:

    window 8 show lots of error during installing sql server 2008/2008r2 and even2012 and after that show installing fail

  9. Kiran Rana says:

    very true. even i tried to install sql server 2005 in windows 8 but its showing problem after clicking "install without help". Setup will start but when it reaches 60 to 70 % it will show the error message and revert back. so i have installed windows 7 again

  10. suneetha says:

    how to install sql server-2008 in windows-8

  11. says:

    I instilled the service pack 3, but I still have a problem to create and connect a new server.

    please, tell me what can I do ?

  12. aditya says:


    i have tried the above procedure it worked for me thanks for the help. Yesterday i successfully installed sql server 2008 R2 on my w8 pro.

    Thanks 🙂

  13. Spacey says:

    I don't have luck installing SQL Server on Windows… 😉 … had problems installing SQL Server 2008 on Win 7 last year, only to capitulate and let IT image the laptop to solve the problem.

    Now I have a new laptop, with Win 8 this time and I am trying to install SQL Server 2012… and long and behold its not happening for me. It just stops somewhere in the middle of install w/1406 error saying its unable to install. Then after clicking OK, it tries to restore the system to the starting point but it fails to do so after about 10 minutes. At this point the system is pretty much hosed… almost non responsive and the only way to do anything is to hard boot it w/the Power button.

    Any ideas? I have attempted the install from a user w/admin rights and definitely given the Admin password when asked. All compatibility tests prior to install passed and there was no sign of any trouble ahead. Its a brand new Dell Lattitude 6530 w/Win 8 and Office 2013. Not much else on it.

    Any ideas?

  14. Ronald says:

    Thanks for this article, which helped me resolve this compatibility issue.

  15. We also have a KB article that covers various issues related to installing SQL Server on Windows 8: Using SQL Server in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 environments (…/2681562)


    Ramu. (SQL Server Support team)

  16. Nero says:

    Exactly what confuse me. Thanx Bob.

  17. tweety says:

    how to install ms sql server 2008 on window8,not service pack1,

    please, tell me steps of installing ms sql sever 2008/2012

  18. amina says:

    TITRE : Programme d'installation de SQL Server 2008


    Des erreurs de validation figurent sur cette page. Cliquez sur OK pour fermer cette boîte de dialogue. Examinez les erreurs au bas de la page de configuration, puis indiquez des paramètres valides ou cliquez sur Aide pour plus d'informations.





  19. kanakareddy says:

    it work with sql server2008 in windows 8 operation system

    please tell me answer

    my phone no:9493543786

  20. kanaka says:

    hi this is kanakareddy.

    i have  one question

    sql server 2008 works with window8 os.

    please tell me answer

    my phone no:9493543786 and 8486849573

  21. Syam Mohan says:

    I am trying to install sql server 2008, hope this article will help. But, is there any other sql server compatible with windows 8?

  22. Mike Dub says:

    I just installed SQL Server 2005 on a 2012 R2 box and it works fine from what I can tell.

  23. Lapetty says:

    I find this really assisting.  I tried to load SQL Server 2005 on Windows 8 but got the same errors, yes, even though the setup executed successfully.   to run But my question is, is it possible to run a VM within windows 8 and then load  Windows 2007 and then run SQL Server 2005 within that VM?

  24. Daisy says:

    I have tried selecting “Get help online’ option (1st picture) but no dialog box (2nd picture) was shown… anyone knows why is that?

  25. deep says:

    its not helpul…its been two mnths m  messin up wd sql server installation procedure on windw 8..:( bt hvnt get any sol.yet

  26. Udaysinh Vaghela says:

    I am trying to install SQL 2008 in windows 8.1 Pro.

    When i try to login by Administrator i got error at last  " Attempted to perform an unauthorized operation."

    Same I creat new user with member of administrator then same i got error at last  " Attempted to perform an unauthorized operation."

    I run the program in compatibility with SQL 2008.

    Thanks in advance

  27. says:

    My company's customers run a software to manage orders and price lists that is based on SQL Express.

    Several of them installed successfully SQL Express 2005 only ignoring the first warning; instead they had to fiddle with SQL 2008 to get the things going.

    Both on Windows 8 and 8.1

  28. Starlove says:

    I used to LOVE using Microsoft products, now I HATE using anything to do with them. Go figure 🙂 I installed Classic Shell to cover this useless Windows 8 granny screen, my new computer with Windows 8.1 installed can't install SQL Server, when I run it, it says Check for solutions online, and it goes nowhere, WTF BILL GATES. The only reason I need to install this fat dinosaur SQL Server is because some dumbass client of mine needs me to look at his db. You have done an EXCELLENT job of chasing away previously loyal customers like myself, I was a MCSD and now I want to puke every time I think of MS.

  29. Starlove says:

    p.s. You really should think about showing Clustrmaps hits at the bottom of this page. What it proudly tells me is that a third of a million people have visited this page, obviously because of their frustration with this process. Go figure what I mean by that as well!!

  30. Starlove says:

    My apologies, it installed after selecting "Run Anyway" after compatibility issue warnings. It says there are issues, which we ignore, then it finds no issues. You have to admit that's a bit of a backward approach though and a bit confusing for the average person., no wonder half the users in the world have visited this page.

  31. Nketsi says:

    Please send me an verification number for my Microsoft ward

  32. korosh says:

    Hi, I’d version Microsoft SQL server 2008 and 2008 R2 mtshkrm.

  33. Joe Byrne says:

    Thanks for this, was getting the error trying to install 2008 SE on windows 2012 R2, could see it was because I needed SP3 but of course SP3 is just an update kit. Thought I was in catch 22. Just ignored the error a couple of times and then did SP3 on top. All good. Had spent some time hunting for a full SP3 install kit, I’m from an Oracle background, Oracle always release a full install kit even for patch releases.

  34. Arnetta Celedon says:

    I have downloaded the SQL Server 2014 Express with tools and not able to run on my 8.1 OS and I keep getting message I have to have miminal requirements and I don’t know what it is I have done what I know to try to fix the problem.

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